Universal Rule (1923)
universal rule“It is a universal rule that if any isothermal process is to occur with finite velocity, it is necessary that:

Universal rule (Lewis equation)

[This applies to] a chemical process which is in some way harnessed for the production of useful work. In the far more common case of a reaction which runs freely, like the combustion of a fuel, or the action of an acid upon a metal; in other words, systems which are subject to no external forces except a constant pressure [exerted by the atmosphere]. In such cases w’ = 0, and it follows that no actual isothermal processes is possible unless:

Gibbs free energy (Lewis notation)

Therefore if we know the value of ΔF for any isothermal reaction, and if this value is positive, the we know that the reaction, in the direction indicated, is thermodynamically impossible. We may think of:

Driving force

as the driving force of a chemical reaction.”
The "universal rule" of thermodynamics, as explained in 1923 by Gilbert Lewis, formulaically, using the F “Free” energy symbol characteristic function notation, and caricature form, using the modern G "Gibbs" free energy symbol notation, a rule with governs the “reactions which run freely” about us, as Lewis says, such as the “combustion of a fuel, the action of acid upon a metal”, or the reactions that occur between people (human chemical reactions). [2]
In science, universal rule refers to the unification of the first law and second law of thermodynamics into a unified universal statement governing the operation of nature.

In circa 1770, German polymath Johann Goethe was the first to correctly dig out, search for, explicate, and uncover a "universal principle" permeating nature, chemical realm up through the human realm of affairs and doings. As he comments in book 20 of his autobiographical From My Life: Poetry and Truth (1813), regarding his pre 1775 years: [3]

“I perceived something in nature (whether living or lifeless, animate or inanimate) that manifested itself only in contradictions and therefore could not be expressed in any concept, much less any word. It was not divine, for it seemed irrational; not human, for it had no intelligence; not diabolical, for it was beneficent; and not angelic, for it often betrayed malice. It was like chance, for it laced continuity, and like providence, for it suggested context. Everything that limits us seemed penetrable by it, and it appeared to dispose at will over the elements necessary to our existence, to contract time and expand space. It seemed only to accept the impossible and scornfully to reject the possible.”

It would take Goethe a little over three decades to solve this puzzle, namely to determine what exactly this "something" was, and by 1796 he began outlining his grand theory of how chemical affinity pervades and regulates the whole of existence on earth, chemical to the human romance and social affairs level of existence (see: Goethe timeline), publishing the final form of his theory in coded physical chemistry novella format, in his 1809 Elective Affinities; and shortly thereafter its tumultuous publication Goethe came under attack, as the principle presented therein go against the standard cultural morality system, and in confrontation on this he gave his final word on the matter:

“The principle illustrated in the book is true.”

Likewise, as summarized well by British artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, in 2011 comment on his oil on canvas rendition of Goethe’s famed theory:

“In 19th century chemistry, the term ‘elective affinities’ was used to describe chemical compounds that only interacted with each other under determined circumstances. The writer Goethe employed this as a universal organising agent agent running across human relationships and science. I was drawn to these ideas – which are now seen as degenerated methods in modern science – as relevant to language, and how we use it.”

To correct Lenkiewicz here, Goethe's theory of a universal chemical nature are not now seen as "degenerate methods in modern science", but rather, correctly, affinity was subsumed into chemical thermodynamics, through the 1882 "On the Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes" of German physicist Hermann Helmholtz, and the connecting equation, first derived in the work of Helmholtz, between Goethe's affinity version of his pervading nature theory is the Goethe-Helmholtz equation:

 A = - \Delta G \,

which relates the driving forces, A, of a chemical process, such love or war, to the change in the Gibbs free energy ΔG of the system.

To continue, a few years prior to this, in 1865, German physicist Rudolf Clausius stated the the laws of the universe as follows: [1]

"The energy of the universe is constant." | First main principle

  dQ = dU + dW \,

"The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum." | Second main principle

 \int \frac{dQ}{T} \ge 0 \,

“If for the entire universe we conceive the same magnitude to be determined, consistently and with due regard to all circumstances, which for a single body I have called entropy, and if at the same time we introduce the other and simpler conception of energy, we may express in the [above] manner the fundamental laws of the universe which correspond to the two fundamental theorems of the mechanical theory of heat.”

In 1915, English physiologist William Bayliss, in his his Principles of General Physiology, restated these two universal laws in the form of one statement, which he says is applicable to both the chemical realm and the human realm. Specifically, he re-interpreted Wilhelm Ostwald’s 1912 energetic imperative (the thermodynamic imperative version of Kant's original 1785 categorical imperative), rather interestingly, having a decent grasp of the views of of the work of Willard Gibbs (available energy) and Hermann Helmholtz (free energy and bound energy), as not being solely based on the first law, but on both the first and second law, whereby the imperative should yield a rule is how one should act "morally" within the confines of universal rule, as follows:

“It is plain that, of the energy contained in a system, only that part which can do work is of value. This principle was applied by Willard Gibbs (1878, pp. 216, etc.). Helmholtz (1882, p. 33) made the important distinction between "free" and "bound" energy. Clausius, at the end of a fundamental paper (Pogg. Annalen, cxxv. p. 400, 1865), formulates the two laws of energetics as follows:

I. The energy content of the universe is a constant quantity.
II. The entropy of the universe is always striving to a maximum.

The word "entropy" is here used as having essentially the same meaning as the "bound" energy of Helmholtz. The law is therefore equivalent to the statement that "free " energy is always striving to a minimum. The fact, derived from universal experience, that free energy always tends to diminish, if it possibly can, is sometimes known as the "principle of Carnot and Clausius". It was also enunciated, about the same time as the publication of the paper of Clausius (referred to above), by William Thomson under the name of the "Dissipation of Energy." The principle has obviously a great practical, as well as philosophical, importance. It has been made by Ostwald (1912) the basis of a general rule of conduct, which he calls the "Imperative of Energetics." The rule may be translated thus: waste not free energy; treasure it and make the best use of it. As will be admitted, the admonition is an excellent one, and, when applied, leads to interesting results, as may be seen from the collection of essays under this name. To mention two subjects only, which are amongst those discussed, the waste involved in war and the value of a universal standard for the sizes of printed books.”

In 1923, American physical chemist Gilbert Lewis, published the 1923 textbook Thermodynamics and the Free Energy of Chemical Substances, which resulted to replace the notion of "affinity" with the notion of "free energy" in the corpus of modern science, and in his chapter sub-section "The Driving Force of a Chemical Reaction", he famously situated the "driving force" thermodynamic view of chemical process and introduced what he defined as a "universal rule" according to the rule that "no actual isothermal processes is possible" unless, using modern notation:

DG lz c

meaning that Gibbs free energy has to decrease in order for a reaction, human or otherwise, to occur. [2]

1. Clausius, Rudolf. (1865). The Mechanical Theory of Heat: with its Applications to the Steam Engine and to Physical Properties of Bodies (pg. 365) (trans. Thomas Hirst, 1867) (URL) London: John van Voorst.
Lewis, Gilbert N. and Randall, Merle. (1923). Thermodynamics and the Free Energy of Chemical Substances (pg. 161), McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc.
3. Schwartz, Peter J. (2010). After Jena: Goethe’s Elective Affinities and the End of the Old Regime (pg. 19). Publisher. Bucknell University Press.

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